Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dad Magic

My niece was over yesterday and my boyfriend took the opportunity to entertain both her and my son with a little magic trick...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Toddlers Down With Mother Nature At The BBG

It was another Tuesday at the BBG (Brooklyn Botanic Garden). I've noticed that my son behaves differently when he is outside as opposed to being in the house. Inside, everything to him is old hat. He knows most every corner of the apartment. But outside, in nature, every little thing is fascinating to him. He could spend an hour examining a blade of grass. Take a look at him and his buddy Luka playing with some of mother nature's gifts, grass and sticks!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Ramones Inspire Strange Behavior in Toddlers

My good friend Ms. Katie Grinch gave me a fantastic present when my son was born. It was a CD that converted popular Ramones songs into baby lullabies. The CD is called "Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of The Ramones." Unfortunately (because life got so insane after having my son) I hadn't had a chance to listen to the CD until today over a year after she gave it to me. Both my son and I loved it! The CD, as promised, creates a mellow mood for the listener. My son decided to calmly try on some shoes while listening to "I Wanna Be Sedated."

When searched online, I found that Rockabye Baby is a series of CDs. They include lullaby renditions of bands such as AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, The Cure and more. For more information about the Rockabye Baby Ramones CD click here

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just Say "Yes!"

Recently, my son started to say "Yes!" If I ask him a question and the answer is affirmative he lets me know. Sometimes he even says it in Russian:

My son's new found power overwhelms him, and he likes to say yes to everything. Like when my best friend Mint was over and she asked him:

"Are you a unicorn?"
He promptly replied
"Da!" or "Yes!"

In all seriousness, he realizes there is a choice between "yes" and "no." But there is something greater going on here. The other day, he found a zip lock bag with a piece of old bagel in it. I had an urge to say "No!" or "Don't eat that!" But I stopped myself.

Instead I said:
"Thank you! Is that for me?"
And reached my hand out to take the zip lock bag from him.
He kindly handed over the old bagel smiling the whole time. In my own way, I said "Yes!" instead of "No!" I embraced the situation rather than fighting it.

The truth is, it takes a lot of energy to say "No!" and get all excited because my child is doing something I would rather he refrain from doing. It feels much better and yields more positive results to just say "Yes!"

Friday, September 25, 2009 Children's Tylenol Recall

My friend Donna sent me this CNN article regarding a recall of 21 Children's Tylenol products. There was bacteria present during the manufacturing process of these products. While Tylenol states that the bacteria was not used the final product, they are still recalling these items.

See link below: Tylenol Recall Article

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Banana Shake Saves The Day

I have learned that bananas are weapons of mass distraction. Today, however, a banana further amazed me with its capabilities.

This evening my boyfriend, my son and I had dinner with my parents. My son was having a difficult time during the meal. He had been teething all day, and as a result he had 102 fever, was cranky, drooling and refusing to eat his dinner. I was exasperated. I kept re-offering him the chicken, rice and beans combination that we were eating, but he was not having it.

All of a sudden, my boyfriend shot out of his seat at the table.
"I have an idea!"
He grabbed a banana, some plain yogurt and milk and threw them all into a blender.

Then we searched frantically around my parent's house for a straw. We found an enormous one
(formerly belonging to an old Weight Watchers travel mug) that my boyfriend cut down to toddler-size with a scissor.

The banana shake was a hit! My little guy was sucking down this concoction like mad.
This was a triumph on multiple levels:

1. I was glad that he was getting some nourishment, since he wasn't eating dinner.
2. He has been refusing to drink milk. Now I know how to bribe him to drink whole milk; banana shakes!

He even decided to feed me some of the shake...along with the straw...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A New Take On Reading Aloud

My best friend Mint and I were discussing the miraculous fact that I recently finished reading a book. Despite all that is on my plate, taking care of my toddler and general life duties, I was able to find the time to read.

She asked me how this was made possible. I told her that I read in short spurts; while my son was napping or immersed in individual play.

She then imparted to me that her mother used to read aloud entire novels to her as a child despite whether or not they were age appropriate; this was her mother's way of satisfying her own literary cravings. For example, Mint was read the works of Agatha Christie, many vampire novels, the complete works of Shakespeare and various historical non-fiction books about the queens of England.

A lot of the material she genuinely enjoyed, but some of it was too risque for her to hear at the time.

This leads me to my anecdote of the day. My son has recently begun to recognize that objects falling into the category of "book" span beyond the baby board book. Today, he took a novel, that I had gotten out from the library, and handed it to me. So I asked him:

"Do you want me to read this to you?"
He replied "Dee!" Which I took to mean "Yes."

So I read him a page of the novel. He listened for a bit and then ran off to play with his toys.

I like the idea of reading adult fiction to him and will continue this practice. But unlike Mint's mom, I think I'll keep the material age appropriate.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good Times

For such a long time, my son was an infant. I remember when he couldn't even lift his head. Now he is a roving toddler; constantly on the move and raring to go. It really occurred to me today just how much he has grown, when we were on a play date at my friend Gry's house. Ari and Luka (Gry's son) were feeding off of one another. Luka would laugh and then (as a consequence) Ari would burst into hysterics. It hit me; he has a real friend. He has the capacity to interact with and appreciate another person. My how he has grown.

A Watched Baby Never Naps

You know that expression "A watched pot never boils."? It refers to one's impatience while cooking. You stare at the still water in the pot hoping desperately that it will turn bubbly so you can get on with making your spaghetti.

Along the same lines, I would like to propose a new expression: "A watched baby never naps."

Today, I was stir crazy. I did not want to be indoors at all. Consequently, I was hoping my child would nap in his stroller. He was obviously tired. He exhibited all the classic symptoms: eye rubbing, crying, general crankiness. Yet he wasn't falling asleep.

Then I realized the reason he was staying awake was because I kept checking every other minute to see whether or not he had progressed on his journey to Sleepytown USA.

So I forced myself to stop micromanaging him. It was hard, but I checked my impatience and did it.

A funny thing happened: he fell asleep as soon as I stopped watching.

Monday, September 21, 2009


The Hausfrau Writes Back!

Recently I reviewed Nicole Chaison's Book, The Passion of The Hausfrau here on my blog. I wrote her an email to tell her as much. It read:

Dear Hausfrau,

You are my hero. I have a 15 month old son and have not had the opportunity to read anything substantial since he was born. Your book was the literary oatmeal (hearty meal) that I needed. I related to every page. I love your sardonic wit. Your writing epitomizes my daily thoughts and feelings.

I actually write a mom blog where I reviewed your book. Feel free to check it out:

I wanted to ask if you had any anecdotes about George as a baby? You mention many of Dora's baby antics, but I was curious about George's baby-dom.

Thank you for writing your masterpiece.

Guess what? She wrote back! Here is what she wrote:

Dear Sarah--
Thank you so much for writing! Your email brightened my day (I was having a not very good one; feeling sorry for myself, etc. etc.) and made me feel plugged into something bigger and better. I checked out your blog--it looks great!--and am so flattered by your review of The Passion of the Hausfrau. Thank you!
I don't really have any anecdotes from George's early days, because I wasn't writing at that time. As in the book, it took until my daughter's birth to jump-start my writing urges. I was so tired and overwhelmed when George was a baby that it never occurred to me to pick up my pen and write. How amazing that you have the time and energy to do a blog!
You're in Brooklyn, right? Can you recommend a bookstore that you think might be a good place for me to do a reading? I'd like to plan a trip down to NYC this fall and would love to do a reading/signing.
Thanks again for writing. It meant a lot to me.

It's so gratifying to write to an author and receive a response. This speaks to the kind of person that Nicole Chaison is; clearly she values her readers.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Operating Instructions: Anne Lamott Speaks The Truth

When I found out I was pregnant, I had little idea of what I was getting into. I mean, I knew babies cried and pooped a lot and sometimes did cute things like laugh and drool. But that was about it. Needless to say, I was in for a rude awakening. The truth is, nobody really tells you how hard it is to have a baby.

Except for Anne Lamott, in her book Operating Instructions A Journal of My Son's First Year.

Lamott is a well-known author published several times over. She is also a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. Her book chronicles her brutally honest journey into motherhood. When she becomes pregnant, the father of the baby wants nothing to do with her or the child. Nevertheless, Lamott presses on and decides to have the baby with tremendous support from her variety of eccentric friends and family.

Her prose is candid, hilarious and irreverent. Here is one of my favorite passages where she describes her son at five months old:

He is lying beside me now, reading his plastic Beatrix Potter bath book, very absorbed. I
try to get his attention, but I can see that I am just annoying the shit out of him. (Lamott, p. 138)

It was great reading Operating Instructions at this time in my son's life, because I have just been through the same experience. I could reflect and relate to Lamott's thought processes. Her feelings of joy and intermittent resentment and anger.

I just can't get over how much babies cry. I really had no idea what I was getting into. To
tell you the truth, I thought it would be more like getting a cat. (Lamott, p. 66)

One interesting thing about her is that although she has this biting cynical wit, she is also quite religious. She speaks a lot about her church and her faith throughout the book.

Lamott lets us into her brain for one whole year. The book is written in a journal style and is a very easy read. I am a perpetually slow reader and I finished it in three days!

If you have an infant and you are questioning your sanity, read Lamott's book. You'll feel a lot better about yourself.

For more information about Anne Lamott click here.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Where's Your Head?

I Got Your Nose!

Homemade Sprinkler

Summer is over and Fall is here. The playgrounds are still awash with children, but there is one crucial structure in them that has gone dormant; the sprinkler. A sure signal that summer has ended is when the sprinklers are turned off for the season. But never fear! There is an alternative; it is called a "homemade sprinkler." If you have a bathtub and at least one functioning hand, you are good to go. Take a look:

Friday, September 18, 2009

What NOT To Do At a Library

The library is a place where books are revered. Patrons visit the library to pay homage to their favorite book, or find a new tome they are fond of. That being said, there are certain behaviors that should not occur at the library. The following video exemplifies what not to do at this book loving institution.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Distraction By Banana

Lately, feeding my child has become very difficult. The reason being that he insists on feeding himself. Now I know that this is a natural and welcome stage of development; however, I have noticed that sometimes he has unreasonable expectations with regard to his self-feeding methods.

For example, today I was attempting to let him feed himself oatmeal. He was just about to shove the spoon of oatmeal into his mouth when he noticed that I was spooning some yogurt into a bowl for my own breakfast. He began vocalizing, loudly, that he would like some yogurt. So I swapped out the bowl of oatmeal for the bowl of yogurt. I don't mind a trade, if that's what it takes.

He was still not satisfied. He wanted BOTH bowls of food on his tray. Though I explained to him that that they would not fit, he kept insisting. So I showed him with tangible evidence that his plan was physically impossible.

Having proved my point, I then I took the oatmeal away. This did not go over well.

In moments of crisis, thinking outside the box can only help. I frantically looked around the kitchen for a solution. I found one in the form of a banana!

Upon being handed a banana, he forgot all about both the oatmeal and the yogurt.

I am now a firm believer in "Distraction by Banana!"

Let's Go Bowling!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

BPA: What is It and What Does It Do?

When my son was six months old, I entered Babies R Us to try to find him a sippy cup. When I got to the "sippy cup aisle," as it were, I was bombarded with labels boasting "BPA Free!" I had never heard of this acronym before, so I asked a Babies R Us employee to fill me in.

"Excuse me?" I said "What is BPA?"
She responded in a curious way.
"Oh, well, it's this thing that's in a lot of plastic items. They're not sure what it does. But it's bad."

This was a disconcerting answer. I needed to know more. Upon further research, I found out that BPA is, in fact, a harmful chemical compound that is found in plastic and canned items. It has been known to cause harmful hormonal changes in rats and has dangerous implications for humans.*

BPA is highly controversial. My colleague and long time friend, Kyle, alerted me to an event surrounding BPA and the Sigg company.

Recently Sigg, the Swiss manufacturer of metal water bottles, announced that there was BPA present in some of their water bottles manufactured before August 2008. Because of this, Sigg is offering a "voluntary exchange program." Any Sigg consumer can send in their old water bottle for a new eco-friendly BPA free water bottle. See this link for more info:

Thankfully, mine and my son's Sigg bottles do not fall into this category. Mine is stainless steel and his has the eco-friendly BPA free liner.

Though I found a ton of information about BPA online, I was still overwhelmed and confused.
I consulted my best friend, Mint. She is my source for all things health related. She recommended I check out; reliable environmental website that happened to have a great layman's article on BPA.

Here it is:

This article cleared up my confusion on BPA.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Vinegar is Triumphant

When you begin to type the words "My Sigg" in the Google search engine, one of the phrases that automatically comes up is "My Sigg bottle smells." I must confess that I was having this very problem. Despite my efforts to rinse out my Sigg water bottle with dish washing liquid and water, it still had a funny odor.

I called the Sigg customer service center at (203)321-1220. I explained my problem to the receptionst. I then asked her this:

"What is the best way to clean my Sigg?"
"Use a drop of dish washing liquid and a little bit of vinegar. Dilute this solution with water. Let your bottle sit overnight. This will sterilize your bottle. Then rinse it out completely in the morning."

So I gave it a shot. And you know what? It worked! Then I had a flashback. I remembered a while back I was on the phone with my dad. He was raving about the fact that he had cleaned the bathroom with a solution of vinegar and water. Vinegar was his new natural cleaning agent.

I can tell you this; combined with dishing washing liquid, vinegar is excellent at cleaning a Sigg water bottle!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Aqua Dads

Today was my son's first swim class. And of course, in true Fader fashion, I was running late as can be. We zoomed out of the house with bags of swimming stuff in hand. Unfortunately, my son hadn't napped yet! He was not pleased...

We got to the Y five minutes late, and I realized that I had a ton of stuff and nowhere to put it. The locker room situation went right over my head, and it hadn't occurred to me to purchase a combination lock. The kind receptionist saw me struggling with my bags and offered to watch my sacks of things. How nice!

When we got to the pool I was introduced to a new phenomenon:

Aqua Dad!

Along with myself, there were three other members of the swimming class and all of them were dads! I wasn't expecting this. I assumed the class would be mom-centric for some reason. I figured there might be a dad or two, but I was overwhelmed by the testosterone in the room.

Needless to say, I became instantly self-conscious that I was wearing a bikini and surrounded by men. But they were all really nice and so were their babies. So I relaxed and soaked in the experience. No pun intended.

Due to his lack of nap, my son wore a stoic expression throughout the class, but he seemed to enjoy it nonetheless.

He even liked being dunked under water as the instructor sang the last line to the classic bubonic plague song "Ring Around The Rosy." That line (for those of you who don't know) is "They all fall down!" And with that he was submerged in chlorinated water.

The Aqua Dads seemed to like the class as much as I did. We chatted both in the water and after the class was over.

And, though he played the straight man through the class, when my son left the pool he tried desperately to go back in.

More to come next week on swimming with the Aqua Dads!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What Do I Have to Do to Swim in This Town?

After many months of play dates, park dates, Brooklyn Botanic Garden dates and much much more, my son's play group is moving in different directions. My friend Josina went back to work today (she is a high school teacher) and though my friend Gry will be around this coming year, she is moving back to Norway when her son turns two.

Despite these obstacles we are still determined to get together when we can. Yesterday, the three of us and Josina's husband, Scott met up in Prospect Park. It was the last hurrah before Josina went back to work today. While we were chatting it up on the playground, Gry mentioned that she had enrolled her son in swimming classes at the YMCA in Park Slope. Josina chimed in that her son, too, was going to attend swimming lessons with her mother (at the YMCA in Manhattan) while she was at work.

When I heard about all this potential aquatic action, I wanted in! So today I called the YMCA in Park Slope, where Gry and her son are taking swimming classes. The receptionist informed me that they were so busy, I ought to just come in and see if the class that I wanted was filled. Well, this particular YMCA is quite a walk from my apartment. But I was determined. So off we went.

After I successfully got my son into the stroller (which was a feat in itself since he wants to walk everywhere) we set out for the 9th Street YMCA in Park Slope. When we got there there was a long line of people waiting to register for classes. During the wait my son entertained himself at the photo ID area.
Which was all well and good, until he pulled the enormous photo screen to the ground. Fun!

Finally we made it to the front of the line only to be told that the swimming class we wanted was full! I had walked nearly a mile to be turned away. I wish they would have just told me this on the phone. That would have saved me and my legs a lot of trouble.

Then I had a thought. There is another YMCA on Atlantic Avenue. Maybe they had baby swimming classes too? So I asked the woman at the membership desk for their number. She gladly handed it over and I was on my way.

"Great!" I thought "I'll just call them and see if they have open slots." phone died...

Still determined, I found a payphone to call the Y from.

Unfortunately, I discovered that the number "3" did not work on this particular phone. But I pressed on and found yet another pay phone. I was in luck. This one successfully dialed the number "3."

Despite his multiple attempts, Michael, the chipper receptionist at the Atlantic Avenue Y, was unable to get anyone from the membership office on the phone. I resolved there was only one thing to do; I must go there in person.

Off we strolled all the way from 9th Street and 5th Avenue to Atlantic Avenue and Court Street.
We arrived at the Y and I waited with bated breath as Sara, the membership representative, checked to see if there were open slots in the baby swimming class I wanted.


As I filled out the paperwork for registration my son sat on the counter spying on the receptionists...

When we were done, he had his very own ID card.

Which he had to inspect several times.

Now he is registered for swim class. It was worth every block I walked.

Good Morning!

Monday, September 7, 2009

I am My Worst Critic

I have a tendency to judge, and the person I judge the most is myself. This has become an issue with regard to my parenting.

Here is an example of what might go through my mind:

Why aren't I feeding my son more vegetables?
We should have gone to the playground today instead of staying in.
He is cranky, what am I doing wrong?
Is he eating enough?
I should read more to him, then he would be saying more words instead of babbling nonsense words.
He doesn't hang out with other babies enough.

I have a difficult time stopping my mind and leaving myself alone. I brought this up to my mom. She said the following:

"Ah! These are such typical parent thoughts."

I asked her what she meant by this and she went on to say:

"No matter what we do as parents, we think we could have done more."

And it's true. No matter what I do with my son, I feel as if I could improve upon my parenting. But then again, the fact that I have my parenting skills under a microscope speaks to how much I care about what I am doing with my child. I am utterly aware of my behavior and how it will affect my son.

However, is there a point when this self analysis becomes too much? I think so. At a certain point it seems it would be best to just live in the moment ("the now" as my mom puts it) and just be. It's okay for our kids to see us how we really are.